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prosper thomson: the teflon man

thedude47 reckons the tools found in SM’s suitcase satisfactorily indicate that their owner played a practical part in a professional car stealing organisation, and in that capacity he came into contact with both Prosper Thomson and Jessica Harkness.

This contact may have been made in Melbourne in 1948, when Jessica was living with her family after leaving Sydney. Prosper and his wife Queenie lived in a nearby suburb.

They may have met at the Sandringham Hotel.


Prosper Thomson was discharged from the army as medically unfit and his police record is no worse than half the blokes I drink with at the Ballina Hotel, but not as bad as some of the villains who live in the Byron Bay hills.

The dude thinks the investigation into SM’s death was deliberately (?) sidetracked when the police decided the phone number they found written in pencil on the back of the Rubaiyat referred solely to Jessica, the phone subscriber, despite it being a number Prosper used frequently in his classified advertisements.

We can only ponder what Prosper Thomson’s reaction might have been if he had been the one shown the bust.


‘Erroll,’ said DS Leane when they were settled in his office, ‘interview both the woman and her boyfriend, this Thomson character, we know him. Find out where they were on the 30th of November then bring them in to view the bust.

Show it to them one at a time, see who flinches.
…… That doesn’t sound too hard, does it?’

‘No, Boss, on the way.’


Prosper Thomson was never interviewed.

Erroll,’ said Detective Brown when they were settled in his office, ‘interview the Moseley Street woman. Bring her in to view the bust.

See if she flinches.’

‘What about Thomson, the bloke she’s living with?’

‘What about him?’


17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    Hi Pete, It’s fascinating to think, why did the police think everything referred to Jessie and, apparently, Jessie only? She shared the same house with a well known petty crook, yet the police never interviewed him, why? Did the police have something else from the book which pointed to only Jessie and no one else? Can’t help thinking that Jessie pushed her luck when she told the police she was married, how long would it have taken Det. Canney to check out her story, why didn’t she simply state she was living with Prosper and would marry in the near future?

    January 11, 2017
  2. You’d think, Clive, even if the police thought SM was a suicide, which they didn’t, they would be curious about where Prosper and Jessica were on the night of the 30th.

    January 11, 2017
  3. thedude747 #

    Adelaide is often referred to as the “murder capital of Australia”. We have gained this inglorious title seemingly because of the unsolved crimes that continue to haunt us. Every once in a while the local rag runs a story and the hauntingly grainy black and white images of the missing and or the deceased stare out at us pleading for closure (including SM) with new appeals for information or some minor lead has come up only to lead to another dead end. The truth is that Adelaide is not the “murder capital” of Australia at all in terms of the stats we are no better or worse than any other place. So why all the mysteries?
    There is no black magic or voodoo at play and Adelaide was not built on an Indian burial ground. As I see it see we just have a history of very poor and in efficient policing in this state. The lack of a thorough investigation into the only major lead in the SM case was criminal. The Mosley st phone number along with of coarse the minor coincidence of the mans body being found 2 minutes walk and in the first clear space from the front door of said Mosley st house. You wouldn’t ask “maam does anyone else live in this house?” “oh your husband ,when could we have a chat with him”. “oh now you say he’s NOT your husband…..interesting”. “boys run a background on Prosper McTaggart Thomson”

    January 12, 2017
    • One of the more common treatments for Prosper’s problem was a nip of digitalis … no prescription needed. Fatal when taken in excess of proper dosage.

      January 12, 2017
  4. ellen #

    Forget murder and espionage, I’m surprised that Prosper didn’t get any more than a slap on the wrist for his car thievery.

    January 13, 2017
  5. thedude747 #

    The Judge in the D Page civil case said as much Ellen. Because it wasn’t a criminal case the judge had no power to impose any criminal penalties and Prosper was hence more inclined to be frank in his answers during that case. The judge did express a desire to refer the matter however given Prospers behaviour.
    For those unfamiliar Prosper admits to somehow smooth talking a local married woman to front him the funds to “buy one car then go to Melbourne to sell another car” car number two to be sold on the black market in Melbourne. However Prospers contact in Melbourne takes possession of the car and writes Prosper a dud cheque. He then keeps the car and refuses to pay up.
    D Page tells Pros to go to the cops but Pros advises he can’t beccause the guy in Melbourne is “not the type of person you go to the police about”. NOW if the car was owned or obtained legally Pros had every right to go the the cops so clearly the car was obtained illegally and the attempt was made to sell it on the black market. Pros admits ll of this in. court proceedings bought about because Pros won’t pay D Page. He shafts her and the Melbourne guys who “you don’t go to the place about “shafts Pros.
    Conclusions are
    1 Pros was in the black market car game
    2 Was dealing with shady off the radar types from interstate 9guys you don’t go to the cops about)
    3 Had been shafted big time at least once and was owed some serious coin over the dud cheque which caused him major grief from D Page.

    January 13, 2017
  6. thedude747 #

    Because off all this Pros was no longer prepared to run the gauntlet to Melbourne in a stolen car only to get shafted by the Carlton crew.

    Later that year, Pros has a prestige car bussines and the means to provide clean ownership documents for a brand new 1947 white Hilman rego “JESS 07” that he had in his yard. He also knew the location of a number of similar brand new white Hilmans which were ripe for the scam.
    Well dressed smooth criminal arrives in town on the train. His mission to meet up with his Adelaide fixer who will provide location of several white Hillmans and a clean set of ownership papers for white Hilman rego “JESS 07. He is a pro well organised packed for a 2 night business trip., He’s dressed and person ts as such that he would not look out of place in a prestige car. My to do list.

    Clean up and store my bag and kit
    Meet up with Adelaide fixer and establish that he’s legit
    Obtain from fixer clean papers and location of white Hilman, several options.
    Hand over the cash
    Go back and get the kit
    Pinch Hilman
    Alter plates to read JESS 07
    Head straight back to Melbourne

    January 13, 2017
  7. ellen #

    Or, the level of corruption gave him a get out of jail free card. This was after the war when shortages and survival played a big part. Perhaps Pros owed favors and favors were afforded him and his spooky wife.

    January 13, 2017
  8. thedude747 #

    Yep Tim he sufre was AND when the cops caught up with him on that one in WA he tried to top himself !! (see other associated articles on that arrest).

    Establishes that Prosper Thomson clearly had a history of panicking and going to the extreme when cornered.

    Did SM corner him and did he panick ???

    January 13, 2017
    • Tim #

      I’m on the fence on the panic attacks. I think our Prosper was a bit of an actor…

      January 16, 2017
  9. Clive #

    Hi the dude747, Good question, did the SM also want more from Prosper than had already been agreed, Prosper lost his cool and threatened to “spill the beans” and name names to the police, SM talked him out of it, Sat down had a drink and, for the SM, Prosper ensured a “little extra” was in the SM’s drink?

    January 13, 2017
  10. If a car-ring-theft scenario is the potential background and Prosper is the related player…I am less inclined to believe that it was a murder. (If Prosper were so quickly inclined to kill, he would most likely have committed many other crimes.) Perhaps SM unexpectedly died (without Prosper’s or Jessica’s intervention) in their home or at “inconvenient” location and they moved him? That would seem more realistic…

    January 13, 2017
  11. Misca – Then it’s back to his medical conditions … his overlarged spleen etc., or was it a heart attack that left his heart looking like it had been stopped by a glycoside?

    January 13, 2017
  12. To my understanding, those involved in car theft and petrol coupon forgeries used guns rather than poison, that is as far as we are aware 🙂

    January 13, 2017
  13. thedude747 #

    Hi Misca-
    Thats the interesting part. Prospers record was source of embarrassment in any company. On the one hand he wouldn’t want the nice folk who browsed around for a fancy car at Prestige Motors to know anything about some of his mid to minor criminal convictions yet in the underworld his record makes him something of a lightweight. Nothing too big time to brag about to the other lags in the lock up This appears to be the best thing Pros has going for him . he is too small time and murder is just out of his league. Ive never considered PT to be a pre mediated murderer at all in this hypothesis. I think many scenarios are far more likely i.e.

    i.e. An inconvenient demise of natural causes whist in the process of commiting a crime leaving PT and Jess in a bind. “George just get that man out of here, wait till later on and carry him down to the beach with any luck the tide will take him ”

    Or. A panic scenario “it was him or me Jess , I had to do it , he was threatening to hurt little Robin”

    January 13, 2017
  14. ellen #

    Prosper strikes me as small time but he would have perhaps been in the company of cops, lookouts or criminals that would perform a contract.

    January 14, 2017

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